Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-5wvtr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T16:40:42.615Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Between Ideas, Institutions and Interests: Analysing Third Way Welfare Reform Programmes in Germany and the United Kingdom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2008

JOHN HUDSON*
Affiliation:
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York YO10 5DD.
GYU-JIN HWANG
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney, Australia
STEFAN KÜHNER
Affiliation:
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York YO10 5DD.

Abstract

This article examines the policy detail of welfare state reform agendas in two countries in which self-proclaimed ‘Third Way’ governments have been in power – Germany and the United Kingdom – in order to explore the competing influences on social policy of an ostensibly common set of ideas and contrasting institutionalised policy legacies. In so doing, it assesses the analytic utility of Bevir and Rhodes’ ideationally rooted interpretive approach against institutionally rooted claims of path dependency. It concludes that while the interpretive approach rightly stresses the need for a stronger focus on ideas as an explanation for policy change, the detail of actual Third Way policy reforms can only be understood from within the two nations’ institutionalised policy legacies. In addition, it argues that policy networks have had a considerable influence on reform trajectories too. The article advocates a closer synthesis of perspectives centred around ideas, interests and institutions in order to further our understanding of processes of policy change.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Bevir, M. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (2003), Interpreting British Governance, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Bevir, M. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (2004a), ‘Interpreting British governance’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6: 2, 130–6.Google Scholar
Béland, D. (2005), ‘Ideas and social policy: an institutionalist perspective’, Social Policy and Administration, 39: 1, 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bevir, M. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (2004b), ‘Interpretation as method, explanation and critique: a reply’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6: 2, 156–64.Google Scholar
Blair, T. (1998), ‘Foreword’, in Department of Social Security, A New Contract for Welfare: Principles into Practice, CM 4101, London: Department for Social Security/Stationery Office.Google Scholar
Blair, T. and Schröder, G. (1999), Europe: The Third Way/Die Neue Mitte, London: Labour Party.Google Scholar
Bonoli, G. and Powell, M. (2002), ‘Third ways in Europe?’, Social Policy and Society, 1: 1, 5966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonoli, G. and Powell, M. (2004), Social Democratic Party Policies in Contemporary Europe, London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Department of Health (1997), The New NHS: Modern and Dependable, CM 3807, London: Stationery Office.Google Scholar
Department of Social Security (1998), A New Contract for Welfare: Partnership in Pensions, CM 4179, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department of Work and Pensions (2006), Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System, London: DWP.Google Scholar
Esping-Andersen, G. (1990), The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
Estevez-Abe, M., Iversen, T. and Soskice, D. (2001), ‘Social protection and the formation of skills: a reinterpretation of the welfare state’, in Hall, P. and Soskice, D. (eds), Varieties of Capitalism: the Institutional Foundations of Competitive Advantage, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Finlayson, A. (2004), ‘The interpretive approach in political science: a symposium’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6: 2, 129–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giddens, A. (2001), The Global Third Way Debate, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
Glendinning, C. (2003), ‘Health policies’, in Ellison, N. and Pierson, C. (eds), Developments in British Social Policy 2, Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
Green-Pedersen, C. and van Kersbergen, K. (2002), ‘The politics of the “third way” – the transformation of social democracy in Denmark and the Netherlands’, Party Politics, 8: 5, 507–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green-Pedersen, C., van Kersbergen, K. and Hemerijck, A. (2001), ‘Neo-liberalism, the “third way” or what? Recent social democratic welfare policies in Denmark and the Netherlands’, Journal of European Public Policy, 8: 2, 307–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greener, I. (2002), ‘Understanding NHS reform: the policy-transfer, social-learning, and path dependency perspectives’, Governance, 15: 2, 2547.Google Scholar
Hall, P. A. (1992), ‘The movement from Keynesianism to monetarism: institutional analysis and British economic policy in the 1970s’, in Steinmo, S., Thelen, K. and Longstreth, F. (eds), Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Hall, P. A. (1993), ‘Policy paradigms, social learning and the state’, Comparative Politics, 25: 3, 275–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hall, P. A. and Soskice, D. (2001), ‘An introduction to varieties of capitalism’, in Hall, P. A. and Soskice, D. (eds), Varieties of Capitalism: the Institutional Foundations of Competitive Advantage, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hartmann, A. K. (2003), ‘Patientennah, Leistungsstark, Finanzbewusst? Die Gesundheitspolitik der Rot-Grünen Bundesregierung 1998–2002’, in Egle, C., Ostheim, T. and Zohlnhöfer, R. (eds), Das Rot-Grüne Projekt. Eine Bilanz der Regierung Schröder 1998–2002, Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag.Google Scholar
Hartz, P. (2002), Modern Services on the Labour Market, Report of the Commission (Brochure A 306), Berlin: Ministry for Work and Social Security.Google Scholar
Hay, C. (2002), Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hemerijck, A. and Visser, J. (1999), ‘The Dutch model: an obvious candidate for the “third way”?’, 56, Archives Européennes de Sociologie, 40: 1, 103–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hills, J. (2004), ‘Heading for retirement? National insurance, state pensions, and the future of the contributory principle in the UK’, Journal of Social Policy, 33: 3, 347–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinrichs, K. (2003), ‘The politics of pension reform in Germany’, paper presented to ‘Pension Reform in Europe: Shared Problems, Sharing Solutions?’, Conference, Hellenic Observatory/The European Institute, London School of Economics.Google Scholar
HM Treasury/Department for Work and Pensions (2003), Full Employment in Every Region, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Hudson, J. and Lowe, S. (2004), Understanding the Policy Process: Analysing Welfare Policy and Practice, Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
Kingdon, J. (1995), Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, London: Longman.Google Scholar
Larsen, C. A. (2002), ‘Policy paradigms and cross-national policy (mis)learning from the Danish employment miracle’, Journal of European Public Policy, 9: 5, 715–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levi-Faur, D. (2006), ‘Varieties of regulatory capitalism: getting the most out of the comparative method’, Governance, 19: 3, 367–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lewis, J. and Surrender, R. (2004), Welfare State Change – Towards a Third Way, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marsh, D. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (eds) (1992a), Policy Networks in British Government, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Marsh, D. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (eds) (1992b), Implementing Thatcherite Policies: Audit of an Era, Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
Marsh, D. and Smith, M. J. (2000), ‘Understanding policy networks: towards a dialectical approach’, Political Studies, 48: 1, 421.Google Scholar
Merkel, W. (2000) ‘Die Dritten Wege der Sozialdemokratie in das 21. Jahrhundert’, Berliner Journal für Soziologie, 10: 1, 99124.Google Scholar
OECD (2006), Labour Force Statistics: 1985–2005, Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
Peck, J. and Theodore, N. (2001), ‘Exporting workfare/importing welfare-to-work: exploring the politics of Third Way policy transfer’, Political Geography, 20: 4, 427–60.Google Scholar
Pierson, C. (1998), ‘Contemporary challenges to welfare state development’, Political Studies, 46: 4, 777–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pierson, P. (2001), ‘Coping with permanent austerity: welfare state restructuring in affluent democracies’, in Pierson, P. (ed.), The New Politics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pierson, P. (2004), Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis, Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Rhodes, R. A. W. (1995), ‘The institutional approach’, in Marsh, D. and Stoker, G. (eds), Theory and Methods in Political Science, London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
Rhodes, R. A. W. (1997), Understanding Governance: Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability, Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
Rhodes, R. A. W. (2004), Comments at the Australasian Political Studies Association Conference, University of Adelaide, September 2004.Google Scholar
Richardson, J. (2000), ‘Government, interest groups and policy change’, Political Studies, 48: 5, 1006–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmidt, M. G. (2003), ‘Rot-Grüne Sozialpolitik (1998–2002)’, in Egle, C., Ostheim, T. and Zohlnhöfer, R. (eds), Das Rot-Grüne Projekt: Eine Bilanz der Regierung Schröder 1998–2002, Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag.Google Scholar
Schröder, G. (2003), ‘Courage for peace and courage for change’, Policy Statement to the German Bundestag, 14 March, Berlin.Google Scholar
Schröter, E. (2004), ‘How many third ways comparing the British, French and German left in government’, Department of Political Science Working Paper PRI-7, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Seeleib-Kaiser, M. and Fleckstein, T. (2006), ‘Discourse, learning and welfare state change: the case of German labour market reform’, Paper presented to the 2006 Social Policy Association Conference, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
Skocpol, T. and Amenta, E. (1986), ‘States and social policies’, Annual Review of Sociology, 12: 131–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Streeck, W. and Thelen, K. (2005), Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Taylor-Gooby, P. (ed.) (2005), Ideas and Welfare State Reform in Western Europe, London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar